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The harsh report by Amnesty International that denounces sexual and gender violence in protests in Colombia

A woman remembers that when she participated in the massive protests of 2021 in Colombia a riot policeman separated her from the group, touched her inappropriately and threatened her. “They were going to rape us, they put the gun in my mouth.”

His case is one of the 28 that he documented International Amnesty in a report released Thursday focused on gender-based violence, including sexual violence, against women and LGBTI people between April 28 and June 30, 2021 during protests. The testimonies were protected under anonymity at the request of the victims.

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The social outbreak of 2021 began due to the disagreement of thousands of people with a tax reform promoted by the government of the then president ivan duke (2018-2022). The reform did not prosper due to the pressure in the streets, but the demonstrations lasted for two months with claims for unemployment, poverty and the demand for guarantees to protest without repression. The days were mostly peaceful, but there were outbreaks of violence and at least 46 people died, according to the UN.

Amnesty International in its report entitled “The police do not take care of me: Sexual violence and other gender-based violence in the 2021 National Strike”, pointed out that police officers were the main suspects. and indicated that most of the attacks occurred during the dispersal they were carrying out using tear gas. The victims were groped under the pretext that it was a search and Amnesty documented that in two cases the attack was committed in detention centers or police vehicles.

A woman told the international organization that after being hit by a rubber bullet she watched an officer take her daughter and “try to drown her in a water hole.” When trying to help her, she said the mother was beaten, undressed, and improperly touched by an agent on her genitals. The women did not file a formal complaint for fear of reprisals.

The Prosecutor’s Office has identified 22 victims of gender violence in the framework of the protests, according to a public report updated to September. Among the cases, he investigates two acts of sexual violence, three for violent carnal access and one for torture and has achieved nine arrests and accused 13 people.

The Associated Press consulted the Attorney General’s Office – in charge of disciplinary proceedings against police officers – for the ongoing investigations, as well as the Prosecutor’s Office to detail whether there are police officers among the accused, but did not immediately receive an answer.

The UN indicated in a 2021 report that it received 60 complaints from victims of sexual violence and verified that in 16 cases the police would be the alleged perpetrators. For its part, the state Ombudsman’s Office consolidated 112 cases of gender-based violence that correspond to attacks by the police during protests and a case in which a policewoman was attacked by protesters, according to a report that submitted to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Of the 28 cases documented by Amnesty, 24 were committed against women, including some with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity, and four against menof which one identifies as gay. The sexual assault against three of the victims occurred in a jail cell. One of them reported that he was forced to declare that he was gay under threat and then two of the prisoners demanded sexual acts from him.

One of the victims had post-traumatic stress that generated constant fear of going out, sleep disturbances and appetiterecurring thoughts about what happened and feelings of guilt, told AP Caribe Afirmativo, a non-governmental organization that works for sexual diversity and provided psychosocial and legal support to the victim.

Amnesty He also denounced that the violence had in some cases racist connotations when committed against indigenous people and Afro-descendants. A woman denounced aggression for being identified with a logo of an indigenous group: “I resisted and started to scream, they covered my mouth, they tore off my shirt… they accessed my body like animals dividing up their prey.” The woman denounced the authorities, but then she received a threat and she had to move forcibly to protect herself from it.

The questions about the police for the excessive use of force in the demonstrations produced some changes in the institution and the new government of leftist Gustavo Petro has promised that agents will respect human rights and not indiscriminately attack protesters.

Amnesty recommended in its report that President Gustavo Petro, as the maximum head of the public force, order a halt to human rights violations and that the government have independent police oversight mechanisms. He also requested that when a serious accusation of gender violence is made, the alleged perpetrator be suspended from his service as a police officer so that he does not interfere in the investigation.

Source: Elcomercio

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